For this African-American Heritage/Black History Month, I went back to my roots and rocked a gele (African head wrap) and a dashiki with some of the women at my church who serve in the Hospitality ministry. I am proud of who I am 365 days a year, but this month makes me especially proud when I think back on all the strides my ancestors made to make my life, and the lives of all Americans, better. Let us all reflect on the heroes who broke down barriers and affected change.
I wanted to try a protective style for the start of winter, so I went with the Senegalese twists. I love how versatile they are. My personal favorite look was the hair bow, but I had a great time trying new styles every week. I kept the twists in for two months, and they were relatively easy to maintain. Though I experienced some slight breakage around my edges upon taking them down, I definitely will try the Senegalese twists again. I miss them already!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means it’s time for my annual Christmas card, co-starring my dog, Berkeley Buster DeVoe. This year we decided to class it up a bit with more formal attire (last year we went casual with onesies). It’s a tradition. I mean, who says only married couples with kids can take Christmas card pictures? Hope this year’s version brings a smile to your face.
After spending loads of dough at Panera on their broccoli cheddar soup, it dawned on me: Hey, I could totally make this at home. So I tracked down a similar recipe online (Thank God for the Internet) and tried it out. It was a process, but the end result proved tasty. Here’s the recipe I found via My Blessed Life:
Broccoli Cheddar Soup — Panera Style
2 T. Butter, melted
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. all purpose flour
4 c. half and half
4 c. chicken broth
1 lb. fresh broccoli
2 cups, julienned carrots
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 t. nutmeg
16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Whisk butter and flour over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add half and half. Add chicken stock, still whisking.
Simmer 20 minutes.
Add broccoli, carrots and onion. Cook over low heat until veggies are tender — about 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup will have thickened by now.
Carefully transfer soup mixture to blender and puree. Return soup to pot (or crockpot) over low heat. Add cheese. Stir until well blended. Add nutmeg right before serving.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Lessons learned: When I pureed about half of the soup in the blender, it made the batch too lumpy for my taste, so next time I’ll try skipping that step and see if that consistency is more to my liking. Plus, I think it’s more aesthetically appealing to actually see whole broccoli florets and slices of carrots. Also, being that I’m a lover of cheese, I underestimated how much queso the recipe calls for and added a bit more. This was a mistake, as the oil from the melted cheese began to rise to the top of the soup as it cooled. And to save prep time, I plan to just purchase already-shredded cheddar and julienned carrots. The recipe is enough to feed a small army, so in the future I’ll be sure to invite friends over to enjoy the hearty dish, as I got tired of eating it for three consecutive nights as dinner. Maybe I’ll get extra fancy and make my own sourdough bread bowls. Hey now! In all, the recipe is super simple and I’ll definitely be making it again on one of these chilly winter evenings. Yay for an expanded cooking repertoire!
I happened upon this little gem while hanging at the Urth Caffé in Downtown Los Angeles this past weekend. I love a random photo opp.
This past weekend was my 10-year high school reunion. Yes, I was a part of Scripps Ranch High School’s class of 2002 (go Falcons!). It doesn’t feel like it’s been a decade AT ALL! Over all, I had a grand time, caught up with old friends and acquaintances, had a blast with my bestie Yvette in the photo booth (best part of the event) and stunted just a little bit (*sings Mike Jones: ♫♪ “Back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot, they all on me” ♪♫). Tee hee!
But seriously, I’ve changed. For the better. I’m not the same tomboy who wore her hair in a ponytail and was quite content in her DC skate shoes and Eddie Bauer fleece pullover. Not the same insecure girl who so desperately wanted validation from her peers. Though I cringe when I look back at photos from my high school years, I am very pleased with the woman I see staring back at me when I gaze in the mirror. I’ve been places I never thought I would see, accomplished things I only fantasized about doing (co-writing a book, living on my own, being a full-time journalist) and learned a great deal along the way (glory to God!). And I’m still learning. A full-fledged work in progress, indeed.
I’m all about ease and speed when it comes to cooking during the week. Chicken stir fry is the perfect dish. Just brown some thinly sliced chicken (seasoned lightly with seasoning salt and pepper), pop in some frozen vegetables, add some stir fry sauce, and you’ve got a nice meal. Don’t forget to make sticky rice to go with it.
My 3-year-old nephew, Jordan, absolutely loves my dog, Berkeley, so much so that he started acting like him (barking, walking on all fours, the whole nine). I captured this Kodak moment in the backyard of my mom’s house. Jordan went outside to play with Berkeley, who was resting in the shade on the warm afternoon. Little Jordan, without prompting, went down in the grass and laid down beside him. I live for these precious moments!
One of the goals I’ve set for myself this year is to cook more often. Here’s my very first lasagna. It was easy enough to make, and man did it turn out delicious!